Why Personal Branding isn’t a Soup Can
Chances are you work for an organization that spends a lot of effort coalescing employees around their brand. After all, employees are perfectly positioned to be great brand ambassadors for a company.
Company brands are big business – the clearer and more memorable the brand the better the revenue. Even public serving organizations have jumped on the bandwagon. Just think of the Big Apple and you immediately think of New York.
If branding is so successful for companies, it makes sense it could do the same for people. Just google “personal branding” and you’ll find a plethora of articles and guides to turn you into Andy Warhol’s next soup can!
While recently working with new leaders in a global IT firm, I was taken aback the first time I heard one of them describe their personal brand. I was told the company encourages employees to develop their own brand.
This got me really curious to think about what would go into an employee’s brand and how they could use it to further their career.
Basically, your personal brand is how you tell people what you do and what you stand for; personal branding’s your reputation, expertise and values rolled into one professional identity or descriptor.
In his recent INC. article, Jayson Demers of AudienceBloom says personal branding requires you to find a signature image, a unique voice, and a recognizable standard that your readers, fans, and customers can grow to recognize. This includes your stakeholders, managers, and prospective employers – anyone who’s interested in working with you.
Before you jump to the notion we all have to have personal avatars, I want to make clear that isn’t the case. Sure, if you’re in an industry where your audience and stakeholders work in visuals, then you may want to use colours, images and cool fonts or even a website to represent you.
What personal branding really boils down to is a crystal clear synthesis of your own self-awareness, how others see you and what you bring to the table.
If you’ve read this far, you may be asking yourself why you would even have a personal brand for your professional life. Great question. Your brand is:
- Your elevator pitch – the consistent story of who exactly you are
- Ground zero when you need a little confidence (a reminder of how great you are)
- A check in valve as to how others are experiencing you
- A way to convey your beliefs and values – what you stand for
- A differentiator of your unique talents – what sets you apart
- A way to position your unique offering to potential employers
- The way you stand out within your current job
- A way to compare yourself to the brand of a potential hiring company or position to assess the “right fit”
- The statement and/or physical representation you can insert at the top of your resume or LinkedIn page
There are lots of articles to help you figure out what your brand is. You’re the best ambassador for you, so why not write your story? I’ve put together are a few key steps to get you on your way:
- What do you stand for? Write an honest list of the most important things you value and believe.
- What are the key skills you want others to know you have? Add those to the list.
- Ask 20 people you know for 3 words that describe you. Add their responses to your growing list.
- Distill the list into 4 themes that accurately describe you (if you find this hard, ask a trusted friend to help).
- Turn the 4 words/themes into your brand statement and write an elevator pitch to use at your next networking event.
- Be creative – design an avatar, have a one-page website full of carefully chosen visuals or whatever makes sense to convey you (while not necessary, it can set you apart to have visual representations).
- Choose one or two social media sites that best suit you and put your brand front and centre. This is your chance to be memorable. (I use LinkedIn and Twitter because it’s where my clients are. Check out Xing if you’re looking for new opportunities)
- Align all future tweets and content with your brand.
- Practice conveying your brand at networking events and opportunities. (Don’t dilute yourself – focus on who you meet with without spending precious energy on gatherings that aren’t in alignment with your brand and where you’re headed).
- Be who you say you are. (Because this is always the most important part of your brand and career).
Finally, the biggest benefit to going through the process of brand creation (if you haven’t figured it out already) is this: greater self-awareness, which is a combination of what you know of yourself and of how others see you. The truth is, people want to hire people who have the right talent and are authentic.
Like what you read? Check out more at eveofchange executive coaching inc.
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